Thoughts From Bonnie
Gary and I were deep in sleep-deprivation mode, from a month of being awakened a dozen times per night by roosters, dogs, horses, church bells and burglar alarms. If we were to move there, we would definitely have to bring a white-noise-generating machine to block out the sounds of the Cotacachi nights.
Two Last Suppers in Ecuador
The night before, our friend gathered a group of pals at her house for a delectable salmon dinner. Seven of us enjoyed the jovial feast. They all felt like longtime friends. At the end, they surprised me with a glorious chocolate pie with birthday candles in it! An expat named Robin has a bakery called The Pastry Shop on San Francisco Square. This chocolate truffle/mousse pie is her finest creation – which is saying a lot, considering how delectable her walnut pie is.
That evening, the condo complex had a potluck gathering. We cooked the last of our food and joined the fun. Some folks were similar to our best friends in the US. Some were different from our usual social circles but were interesting. There were some Ecuadorians who looked a little shy, unsure about our customs. As normal, a bit of conversation and wine broke through those barriers, and soon enough everyone was chatting merrily. A lovely young indigenous man whom I’d gotten to know (he is caretaker for a disabled neighbor) asked us to please move back there. “You are a good person. Please come back. Live.” Those words stick in my mind, along with the earnest look on his face. I consider that a high compliment.
Off To The Airport
Our usual driver’s cousin drove us to the airport that evening, for our 1:00 am flight. We drove through the darkness past those mountainous landscapes towards Quito. Moonlight shone on the volcanoes and palm trees on our way. Our driver was intent on talking, despite my absurd command of the Spanish language. We got some good laughs out of my attempts to convey complex ideas with a nursery school vocabulary. He – like many other Ecuadorians – was acutely interested to understand what motivates “wealthy” people from the US to consider moving to Ecuador. I listed the 5 reasons I hear most often: Cost of living in the US, increasing US violent crime, affordability of healthcare in Ecuador, nice weather all year in Ecuador, and the desire to retire and stop working. The fact that the U.S. Dollar is the currency in Ecuador, and the electricity is the same as the US, are contributing factors as well. Most Ecuadorians we met were similar to him, wanting to get to know what our goals and ideas and concerns and interests are. Since there are so many US and Canadian citizens moving there, I’m glad the residents really do want to get to know us.
Catching a plane at 1 am leads to no sleep. Arriving at 5 am in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, we went through Customs in a bleary state. The Customs workers were in a cheerful mood that night. For that, I was so grateful. Dealing with Customs is hard enough when fully rested, which we were not.
Sleeping In The Airport
Gary and I headed straight for the nearest hidden corner of the airport for a nap. We found a corner where someone was already snoozing on the carpet and set up camp near him. I inaugurated my new alpaca blanket to sleep under. That got us three solid hours of sleep, for which we were immensely grateful.
Upon awakening, we checked our luggage in the airport storage room and headed straight for the beach. Unbeknownst to us, this was Spring Break season in Ft. Lauderdale. Culture shock! After a month in the Andes, this was an abrupt dunk back into American culture. I’ve never seen so many bare-butted girls wearing g-strings in one place! Gary seemed to enjoy the view. I loved the view of palm trees by the water. Feet in the water and lungs full of salty air revived us. I’m so glad we scheduled that 14-hour layover at the beach! We relaxed on the sand, ate, then took a leisurely hour-long stroll down the beach toward the airport road. One more late night flight, and we’d be back at home.
Midnight On The Front Porch
Another midnight rolled around as the Lyft driver dropped us off in our driveway. It seemed so odd yet so natural to be back in our familiar driveway after all that time in a totally different continent and culture. My sleepy brain struggled to integrate the different realities. Do I greet our house sitter in Spanish or English? It wasn’t until our ecstatic dog and cat were wiggling in my arms that I realized we really, truly were home from our big adventure.